Sunday, May 18, 2008

Cardboard Design a-go-go

This post is proud to have been syndicated to the Ponoko Blog.

Further to John's recent post about Ruit Keenan's cardboard furniture, I got thinking a bit more on the subject of this ubiquitous material. Long time favourite of bodgers and school craft departments, it has a perhaps unfair reputation for shoddiness. But it is its very transient nature, this tendency to degrade, that makes it such an alluring candidate material for the sustainability-minded furniture designer. And why it is one of the prime materials for packaging, being discarded in vast quantities when product has reached recipient (I can't begin to effectively communicate the festering relationship I have with moulding Ikea box carcasses in my backyard). Hence, if it can be caught at that moment and upcycled into even a very temporary piece of furniture, it's surely a good thing. But there are plenty of examples of cardboard furniture designed to last a long time indeed.

The other great thing about cardboard is that it is warm, its textural, easily printed on, and one of few materials that everyone interacts with on a daily basis: We've all played with and explored it, even if it was as a two year old and it was that box that the train set came in!

Treehugger recently reported on a project carried out by students of the University of Idaho, and rounded it up. with links to many other of their articles on cardboard items. Some great manipulation of the material there.

Foldshool Stool

Of course, the 2D nature of cardboard also makes it ideal for open source design, as the data for a net can very easily be shared, understood and transferred to the object. Foldschool is a project that does just this for kids' furniture. To quote from their press release:

Each fragment of the pattern can be printed

out on DIN A4/US letter or on DIN A3/Tabloid.

Therefore the pattern charts can be manufactured

everywhere. The assembly of the furniture requires only

easily available tools and devices: cutter, ruler, folding tool,

cutting mat, spray adhesive, needle, glue and masking tape.

Raw Bench

Another great piece is Jason Iftakhar's cardboard bench from a couple of years back. Jason's bench was designed to be produced from the bailing machines already used in supermarkets to discard cardboard. Its a really well executed bit of design for manufacture!

If you liked this, check out the Treehugger article as there is much, much more in the world of cardboard items.

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